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The Security of You


The Security of You

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Steve Jones
Steve Jones
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Yikes, a smell sensor?!?!


Not sure I want to handle data quality on that one

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David Reed-223505
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Steve Jones - Editor (11/12/2008)
Yikes, a smell sensor?!?!


Not sure I want to handle data quality on that one


The smell data is coming. Several entertainment companies are jousting patents over home theater options for adding odor (or odour, for those outside the US)... Disney already has several attractions which inflict smells on the visitors. My sons thought the Stitch escapes attraction was funny; I personally didn't enjoy having an animated character pass gas in my ear while strapped into the ride's restraints.

I'm thinking that the smellometrics might be the way to go, but it has the verification problem as any other biometric that has to be digitized, transmitted and compared with the centrally-maintained authorization data store. That said, I know that your dogs know who you are in the dark, regardless of what other smells you've been involved with recently (with a few exceptions: skunks, cayenne powder, gasoline, etc). If the smellometer can "tune out" the distractors of food, alcohol, perfume, etc, and focus on the unique phermonal-type scent we each have...

Amusing science fiction opportunity: "The odor sensors on the security door can't tell whether that guy doused with gasoline is the right guy or not... but he looks like his picture." Heh.
Alex Fekken
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Uniqueness of the actual "prints" probably isn't even the main issue (with any biometrics). An imperfect or partial biometric "print" from a crime scene could "match" several originals regardless of whether the originals are unique.

In fact, this was used as an excuse by the FBI experts (after the exposure of their "mistake") for the incorrect match in the Madrid bombing. Of course if they had been competent (or honest?) they would have admitted upfront that a positive match could not be made with certainty because of the (lack of) quality of the print provided.
Simon_L
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what is the legal aspect of a company holding bio-metric data ? In age when the government is debating compulsory ID cards etc (not to mention losing data with frightening regularity ) are there not any rules as to how private companies can handle biometric data ..

.. are there no restrictions as to what biometric data your employer can hold about you .. or indeed can they insist you supply it ?!



Steve Jones
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I'm not sure there are great regulations in this area. Legal requirements and limits usually lag far behind the technology.

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mike brockington
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At the very least, it must count as 'Personally Identifying Data' so all of the limits of the Data Protection Act would count (in the UK). Note that one of those provisions is a requirement for a reasonable reason to hold the specific data, so I can't see many employers having a legitimate reason to hold any biometric data - anything used for authentication purposes should presumably be limited to a hash?

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Simon_L
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but if theres a reasonable business/security case to hold employees handprint data then presumably the employer could enforce the requirement for it ? as long as their storage of the data came within the data protection act ?



Steve Jones
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Yes, they could. In fact, there are data centers that require a handprint or retinal scan to access them. They store a biometric representation of you.

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webrunner
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Fascinating topic. Thanks.

It seems to me the ultimate biometric data would be some kind of very rapid DNA fingerprinting. But I agree that the copying issue is paramount. No matter how precisely one can identify a person, there is always a risk that someone else could copy that "fingerprint" and submit it to a sensor.

Perhaps the weak point is in the submission of the "sample," whether it's a retina scan, thumbprint, etc. In the movies, it is already a cliche to see someone hold up a severed hand or (gross) eyeball to get past a biometric scanner. So unless someone can find a way to ensure that the item being submitted for scanning is in fact coming from the original, living person, then there is always a chance at a breach due to impersonation.

- webrunner

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See my signature quote. :-D

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"
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